Friday, September 14, 2018

Why Me???

The purpose of this blog is to trigger even deeper thought at the Shabbat table. Please print and share.

exasperatedL'shana tova.

For the past couple weeks, we've been encouraging everyone to try the new 40 Meditations for the High Holidays.

And last week we gave you a puzzler for your table that I'm wondering if anyone figured out (?)

This week, two emotional encounters that occurred on Wednesday and Thursday of this week which may shed a little extra light on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

Encounter 1, Wednesday:

On Wednesday, I received the following email from a rabbi I know:

I was leading a great discussion on Rosh Hashana.
Then one woman began to speak. She said 'I'm not religious but I'm a good person. But I'm appalled at these Orthodox families, who go through red lights, yak on their cell while driving, act rude, etc. They're ruining the neighborhood, etc."

Clearly, she was tanking the whole discussion. Other people raised their hands, and I was hoping the subject would get changed. Wrong - they started piling on. I did what I thought was right to get things back on a positive note without shutting her down and/or hurting her feelings. I'm not sure I had the most elegant solution. I really want to know what others would have done.


Question for your table: What should the rabbi have done?

My instinct:

“I feel the same way! Nothing burns me more than seeing someone wearing one of these [points to yarmulke] doing something obviously wrong. And while I would personally guess that the average Orthodox person is more careful about following the law, not speaking gossip, etc., it just goes to show you – nobody’s perfect. The question is – for you and for me and for the Orthodox person who ran the red light – what can you honestly improve about yourself this year??

Encounter 2, Thursday:

This was a call from someone who only calls me when his marriage is on the rocks.

It took us over an hour to get to the heart of what was bothering him, but we got there.

It was this:

Why is God doing this to me? Why would he want me to be married to a woman who is selfish and unable to sympathize with me?

So I guess the first question for your table is, What would you say to such a guy?

In case you're interested, here's what I told him.

Our tradtion teaches us that, while each of us has a different mission, we all have the same purpose.

That purpose is to become "perfect" - or Godly, or holy.

Therefore, everything that happens to us is custom designed to help us achieve our purpose.

For example, that person who tries your patience was put in your life in order to teach you patience.

Some challenges can teach us perseverance, others faithfulness, others gratitude, others calmness.

The only way to learn the lesson is to think about it. That's what these 10 Days of Awe are for.

It also really helps to try to work on changing only one habit at a time (see the 40 Meditations sheet).

Question 2 for your table: Whom do we expect and want to be an egotist?

The answer of course is a baby ("feed me, change me!").

But for adults, that latent egotism is the root of most of our imperfections. It was very healthy when we were babies, but....

Now you can understand why one of the three main customs during these 10 Days of Awe is to give extra tzeddaka.

If life is made of time, and time is money, then giving some of your hard-earned money to others is giving a part of yourself.

Hard to do? That may be a sign of how good it is for you. No pain, no gain.

Shabbat Shalom


G'mar ketiva tova — may you have a good inscription (i.e., in the Book of Life)!

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